I’m a few days behind in highlighting an herb for last Friday’s Harvest Moon. This past week was a doozy for my family and I’m happy to report that it seems as though the Full Moon ushered in a change of energy. I feel much brighter and lighter today than I did Thursday, ha! I even got to spend a little time this morning in my garden. A place that has become totally wild and wanton - the mints are mingling, the carrots have gone to seed, the zinnias are showing off, and the nasturtium is reaching out to touch anything and everything it can. My kinda garden.
I thought I’d highlight Nasturtium this month as it has such a big presence right now. The huge circular green leaves are so thick they’re nearly impenetrable and the bright orange and yellow flowers are growing like beacons. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) is a showstopper of a garden plant originating in the Andes Mountains of South America. Its common name comes from the Latin for, “twisted nose.” This term refers to the herb’s pungent smell and taste. It contains a mustard oil compound that gives all parts of the plant a sharp, peppery quality similar to a radish. The leaves and flowers are delightful to nibble and add a great pop to salads, compound butters, and pastes. The young seed pods are easily pickled and substituted for capers. In my garden it’s at its peak late September and early October. It spreads happily on trailing stems and the flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds. That same component that gives it a peppery taste also means that it has disinfectant and antimicrobial properties. Traditionally a tea made of the whole plant would be used to help detoxify the body and treat urinary conditions, although be warned, it is not necessarily the most tasty and delicious of beverages! I like to include the leaves and flowers in my fire cider recipes. The spicyness plays well with the other pungent antimicrobial herbs. I came across one reference recommending a hair tonic of Nasturtium and Rosemary to slow hair loss. I’ve not tried it yet but intend to give it shot this season! You do have to act quick with this lovely plant as it will fade fast at the first frost. Magically Nasturtium is associated with aspiration, victory in struggle, and promoting emotional energy.
In honor of the Harvest Moon I put together a small bouquet this morning. I love the ‘fiesty’ feel of the large leaves, bright flowers, and aromatic mints. I wish you all a season of victory and happiness!